How a Theater Stage Becomes Crypto Art

ALast weekend, an NFT of the theatrical performance “Einstein on the Beach”, a performance created in Avignon in 1976 by Robert Wilson and Philip Glass, was auctioned for 28 ETH. This means that this NFT of a scene from Wilson’s production, in which a bar of light moves slowly from horizontal to vertical, was paid around 76,800 euros. Lots of money for a file.

The approach is relevant with regard to the art market and compares the proceeds of this NFT sale to the prices that an artist like Robert Wilson will fetch, for example, with his video portraits in traditional galleries. The event is particularly exciting because it was selling something that until recently was considered unsaleable: a stage work. It is true that texts and dramatic productions are sold, but until now no one has been able to acquire a piece privately in the same way as one acquires a painting or a sculpture.

modern theater world

The working nature of the productions is collective and not factual, because the plays are collective works for public use, which means that they are renewed every evening and belong to all those who make and experience them. This is not the case with works of art such as paintings or sculptures, as they can be transformed into a singular good and can be appreciated individually, even without being public. In the modern world of theater, everything revolves around what happens between people. But this form of work is always appropriated and exhibited in collectives and for a collective of spectators. The invention of NFT changed that. In the group production and community experience of theatrical arts, the NFT cuts Wilson’s famous scene like gene scissors, sequencing and isolating the chain of performance events and “chaining together” one of its particles, c i.e. incorporating it into an algorithm of encrypted data – chain of ownership and thus making it tradable and negotiable in the cryptographic world of Web3 – the new generation of the Internet based on blockchain technology.

Making a stage work negotiable is an important event for the history of theater and art. It owes its existence to two other notable events: On the one hand, the event format surrounding the auction has mastered a task hitherto considered difficult to solve. Because the format tested in Berlin’s Mitte power plant suddenly transformed completely non-sensory blockchain processes, such as the production and sale of an NFT, into moving real-world experiences through sophisticated staging . And the second aspect of this NFT sale of a theater scene is the fact that this sale has activated a global community of collectors and traders using cryptocurrencies that they create and can determine the value of themselves. It’s almost as if the Volksbühne in Berlin or the Burgtheater in Vienna minted euros themselves, with which you can pay for their tickets. Successful artists and gallery owners have always known that not only first-rate presentation rooms and ennobling exhibitions of the works in renowned institutions are important for high-priced sales, but above all the creation and maintenance of a community of faith in these works. Nowhere do you eat so much together and comfortably as in the world of market-leading galleries.

It will be NFT: The Crowd in Berlin’s Power Station.

Image: Helge Mundt

Ether, the new oil

In the world of the hyper-individualistic, hyper-capitalist crypto art market, these value-creating club events now take place on social media and platforms like Discord, primarily within the DAOs themselves, these autonomous organizations decentralized organizations that not only form their own communities of interest, but also their own cryptocurrency like Bring for bitcoin or ether. The internet has long created its own currencies, currently there are more than 11,000. Bitcoin is considered gold in this Web3 crypto-finance world and ether, the currency of the Ethereum blockchain network, new oil. The 28 ethers of Wilson’s Theater NFT were paid for by an entrepreneur who currently sells Crypto Citizen NFTs to thousands of people in ten cities around the world in the United States, Europe, Latin America, Asia and Africa via DAO Bright Moments, which he co-founded. . We inevitably think of the 10,000 NFT tokens of the “Bored Ape Yacht Club” which were stored on the Ethereum blockchain in 2021 and which today total more than a billion dollars in sales. So we waited impatiently who would buy the NFT “Einstein on the Beach” at the end of the ten days of auction.

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